Friday 25 May 2018

Tensions rise over fake passports

Jason O'Brien and Shane Hickey

A serious diplomatic row could be on the cards after alleged assassins used fake Irish passports on a mission to kill a senior Hamas military commander.

The Government confirmed yesterday that the three Irish passports used by the accused killers of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh were false.

Speculation has mounted that the hit squad were agents travelling under European passports.

Hamas has accused Israeli agents of the murder.

Michael D Higgins, Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, said that he would be raising the issue with Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin.

"The Irish passport is one that is highly respected all over the world, and an incident like this is in danger of putting that trust and respect in jeopardy," he said.

"Local police in Dubai are not ruling out the involvement of the Israeli security services.

"In that light, it is now incumbent on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to seek assurances from the Israeli government that this is not the case."

Last night a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said there had not yet been any contact with the Israeli embassy over the incident.

"We are still trying to ascertain the exact facts of the case," he said. "We have no confirmation or no evidence that there was any Israeli angle to this."

The spokesman said no further action would be taken until the facts were ascertained.

The fake passports -- under the names Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron -- did not match anything issued by its officials. The three alleged Irish nationals do not exist.

This is not the first time that false Irish passports have been used in an international scandal. During the Iran Contra affair in the 1980s, Irish passports were used for clandestine trips abroad.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said that the documents were obvious counterfeits with incorrect numbering.

Britain said it believed six British passports were also fakes. A total of 11 suspects were named in Dubai on Monday, where al-Mabhouh was murdered on January 20.

According to one report, Mr Mabhouh was killed by a female assassin who entered his hotel room by posing as a member of staff and injected him with a drug that induced a heart attack.

Irish Independent

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